Potato Eaters of Van Gogh is painted in Nuenen. In this period of his life the painted a lot of dead nature motive paintings, interior spaces and pictures of figures.
Description of Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh: three men and two women are seated around a small table with teacups and a potato tray, in a cabin of low ceiling.
A refuel lamp illuminates the room, hanging from the beams of the ceiling
Van Gogh did not use surfaces or rigid lines neither parallel lines. The position of the models in the paintings are based on the most rigorous geometric system of distribution: two people sited sideways frame the couple seated facing the spectator behind the table, visually separated by a feminine figure giving her back to the spectator.
The action in the painting is concentrated into the fact that these people are eating these
miserable food, they faces are very serious and sad and their postures are not straight. A clock and an image of JesusCriste in the wall, and a shelf with kitchen utensils on the right hand side are the only details or decoration of the room. It’s obviously a poor family home. In these farmers scene, Van Gogh was experimenting with a new combination of colours that should represent the seriousness and feelings of the painter. Places where originally were white (like parts of the walls of the room) ended up being grey. The faces were painted with a combination of red, blue and yellow, looking like potatoes themselves.
The painter heightened the hands of the farmers in order to emphasize the narrow relation between the manual work and the food.
Van Gogh dedicated a long time to analyse the theme of Potato Eaters, from which are left several drawings and oil canvas studies.
Van Gogh altered many times the first heads drawn in detail. Finally he drew them with coarse and fast strokes. Vincent did all of this extra work with the intention of transmitting primitivism.
The critic of Potato Eaters goes from the timid approval to the energetic rejection, like it was the case of Van Rappard who destroyed their friendship.
Potato Eaters of Van Gogh did not try to represent a social event (like is the case of Rowers lunch of Renoir where the social event is a lot more important than the meal they are having), he is only tried to represent the simple and poor life of these farmers.
The coarse stroke and the choice of dark and earthy colours was the perfect expressive resource for this first masterpiece of Vincent Van Gogh.